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April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 | News Releases on

Bill Rusher Spoke Conservatism to Common Man

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2011 -- Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner released the following statement on the death April 16 of William Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review and leader of the conservative movement:

Bill Rusher was much more than “Bill Buckley’s Publisher.” Yes, he was that, and yes, he did bring business sense, circulation growth, national attention and management continuity to National Review, the conservative movement’s leading publication for so many years. But Rusher also was an independent voice for solid, grassroots conservatism.

Most of us don’t identify the grass roots with either Yale (Buckley) or Princeton (Rusher). Buckley elevated our intellectual level and had us constantly referring to our Webster’s (for this generation, that’s a printed book called a “dictionary”).

Bill Rusher at The Heritage FoundationRusher, on the other hand, talked the language of the common man. He gave voice to our frustrations with the overweening liberal welfare state, whether it was being pushed by a Democrat (LBJ) or a Republican (Nixon). His column was the forerunner for many strong conservative writers who flourish today.

Bill Rusher’s active leadership on the PBS television debate series “The Advocates” was important to modern conservatism for two reasons: First, it gave equal consideration to our side of the argument at a time when the American people were limited to the mainstream media which was dominated by Walter Cronkite et al. Secondly, Rusher introduced up-and-coming conservative spokesmen to this national audience.

To watch a young congressman such as John Ashbrook, Phil Crane or Steve Symms argue for the conservative viewpoint against the liberal icons of the day -- Michael Harrington, Robert Drinan or Ron Dellums -- gave us all confidence and a feeling of being a part of something bigger than a few recalcitrant naysayers.

It’s not a stretch to say that Rusher’s “credentialing” of conservative ideas in a head-to-head matchup with the best the liberals could put up was a real forerunner of today’s efforts to get the message out through talk radio, cable news and newer outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

Bill Buckley, a dear friend whom we all admired in an awestruck way, and Bill Rusher, a feisty, down-to-earth fellow, were the ying and the yang of the modern conservative movement from the 1950s to the turn of the century. How we all miss both of them. And now, with Bill Rusher gone, how they must be enjoying each other’s company again in that Better Place where they are reunited.

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